Tight security measures will be in place when President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence take their oaths of office mid-day Friday, but at least some Sound of North band parents expressed worry about their children’s safety while in Washington, D.C.
Natalie Olinger-Stine, whose son Clayton and daughter Eleanor are in the band, is comforted by the fact that two school resource officers, Eric Stevens and Julie Quesenbery, are on the trip to look out for North students, who will play in Friday’s inaugural parade — as well as 3 p.m. today in a special performance for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
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“My biggest concern is outside influences, as everyone is concerned about,” said Olinger-Stine, who is among a group of parent chaperones on the band trip, which departed at 2 a.m. today — 20 hours ahead of the original schedule to accommodate the committee’s request.
“I understand they’re spending $100 million on security for the parade. So once we get inside the confines the parade, I assume we’ll be as safe as we can probably be,” she said. “But I still have a wariness about it.”
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Safety was one of the key points highlighted during a student/parent meeting Monday evening in the school’s cafeteria, where more than 100 adults gathered to learn details surrounding the trip, including security and a full trip itinerary.
Bill Stultz, North High School director of bands, said students’ safety remains a top priority for him, adding that school rules will apply on the trip.
John Heichelbech, whose son, Eli, is a sophomore with the Sound of North, said he isn’t alone in worrying about security.
“I think every parent does,” said Heichelbech, who will not be traveling to the inauguration.
There’s no way to know what might happen, he said.
Holly Ringer, whose son, North junior Jude Vargas, also will be going on the band trip, said she already has told him to be aware of protests occurring in the area, adding that she thinks the inauguration event could be a potential target for violence.
Ringer will not be going on the trip. She said that she feels at ease, however, knowing that the Columbus resource officers will accompanying the band.
She said she has encouraged Vargas to be aware of his surroundings during the trip and to trust his gut instinct if he feels something isn’t right.
“I don’t encourage my kids to live their lives in fear,” she said.
Still, she added that she is excited that Vargas gets the opportunity to participate in a historical event.
“He’s really going to be part of a political process that defines America,” Ringer said. “When you’re given an opportunity to travel, take it.”
Although Stevens and Quesenbery — who are Columbus Police Department officers — don’t have police powers outside the state of Indiana, they have emergency training in case anything were to happen, Stultz said.
Cellphone service will be limited if available at all during the inauguration parade due to the amount of people expected in the area, said Andrew Moran of the Indianapolis-based Music Travel Consultants, hired to handle trip logistics for the band.
Moran provided his personal cellphone number during the meeting to parents who may have questions.
Band enroute by bus to Washington, D.C., one day earlier than originally scheduled, having left at 2 a.m. today
3 p.m.: Specially scheduled performance for Presidential Inaugural Committee, to be televised on CNN and Fox News
9 a.m.: Guided city tour, with highlights to include the historic Washington monuments, the Lincoln, Jefferson, Vietnam and FDR memorials, the White House and buildings tied to the legislative and judicial branches of government
12:30 p.m.: Free time at Smithsonian museums
3:30 p.m.: Head to Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor Hotel
6:30 p.m.: Dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
8 p.m.: Free time at the Gallery Mall
10 p.m.: Curfew
11 p.m.: Lights out
Breakfast buffet at hotel
8 a.m.: Parade preparation, then depart for Washington, D.C. with a boxed lunch provided while holding for the parade to begin
3 p.m.: Presidential inauguration parade begins after inauguration ceremonies end (3 p.m. start estimated). Breitbart.com reported that the Columbus band would be in the parade’s second division, although such details are subject to last-minute changes.
Post-parade snack, freshen-up at the hotel
7:30 p.m.: Board at Inner Harbor
8 p.m.: Dinner and dance cruise along Baltimore’s inner harbor
11:30 p.m.: Curfew/lights out
7 a.m.: Breakfast at the hotel
8 a.m.: Hotel checkout and load coaches
8:30 a.m.: Depart hotel
10 a.m.: Visit Arlington National Cemetery, where North students will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at 11:15 a.m.
1 p.m.: Depart for shopping trip
1:30 p.m.: Tysons Corner Center Mall in Tysons, Virginia
3 p.m.: Depart for trip back to Columbus
2 a.m.: Coaches arrive in Columbus
Since the Columbus North marching band left early for Washington, D.C., after adding a second inauguration commitment, it needs $17,000 to pay for another night at a hotel in Baltimore, where it is staying prior to its appearance in Friday’s inaugural parade.
Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, was notified and immediately began fundraising again for the band, raising $5,000 in about the first 15 minutes after the announcement. As of Tuesday afternoon, the band still needed $12,000 in order to pay for the additional expense.
Anyone interested in donating to the North band is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org and let the state representative know what you are donating. Donations are being accepted at Salin Bank locations in Columbus.